Relationships

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Seven months ago, I wrote what turned out to be a somewhat controversial blog entry, titled “Relationships: An Outsider’s Perspective.” It was met with a good deal of negative feedback, and I was branded as being jaded and pessimistic.

Perhaps I was. So I decided to revisit the post and see if any of my original thoughts had changed. I figured after more than half a year, it was time.

To be honest, not one thing has changed in my mind.

Around that time, a good friend told me to be careful with being single, you can get used to it really easily and fall into a routine you can never get out of. I agreed, having had an extensive run as a single man in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

I cannot say one bad thing about that period of my life. I was as happy as I had ever been. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. No one else’s opinion mattered. My time was my own. Admittedly, I pissed away a number of years of my life, but is time spent happy really being wasted? In my opinion, time spent miserable is time wasted.

Since 2005, I’ve spent all but two years being absolutely miserable.

I spent a happy 2010 and a happy 2018 but other than that, the only enjoyment I got out of life was time spent with my son. The rest of my life, I flushed.

As I look back over my life, I don’t see how kowtowing to someone else’s wishes 100% of the time, being places I didn’t want to be and doing things I didn’t want to do was benefiting me in any way. Add to it the fact that I felt like a human ATM machine during all those years, I not only lost any enjoyment I had in life, but I had also lost my self respect.

This brings me back to another previous entry, written just over two months ago, “The List, Version 2.0.” This covered the prerequisites I would have for a woman if I ever decided to try a relationship again. As I look back over it, again, nothing’s changed.

I am putting all my faith in 2019. If a relationship is part of that, so be it. I’m not closing myself to the possibility in any way. But I also need to be convinced that being single is inferior to being in a relationship. And time will tell if that turns out to be the case, or not.

I need time to put a buffer between myself and the unhappiest decade of my life, and I’ve got a good 11-month start on that. But I can’t say that one year is enough.

It could take another ten years for me to put the past decade behind me.

However it shakes out, I’m going to be happy again, like I was 20 years ago.

And for the time being, that’s going to be as a single man. And that’s non-negotiable.

Peace.

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Today I’m Thankful For…

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I would like to touch on a few of the things I am truly thankful for on this blessed day.

I. My Health. At this time one year ago, I truly had one foot in the grave. Between heart problems, stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and the abundance of other problems that were eating me alive due to stress, I couldn’t believe I was going to live to see the end of 2017. My son was the only thing keeping me going, the only thing in my life that really mattered to me at all. A year later I am truly on the road to recovery. I have a long way to go, but the majority of my problems have been overcome, once the issues that were causing me so much stress were eliminated. While I still deal daily with stress, as everyone does, my stress level now has lowered so much it’s barely a blip on the stress radar.

II. My Friends And Family. I often say I owe my friends a debt of gratitude I can never repay, and that is so true. So many that I was not “allowed” to remain in contact with over the years that I have been able to reconcile with, you helped to fill the hole in my soul this year. I cannot stress enough how much all of you truly mean to me.

III. Technology. This has been the greatest tech year of my life. I upgraded my cell phone, I got a new 4K Smart TV, upgraded the RAM in my PC, bought two new stereo systems, two Amazon Fire Sticks and upgraded my video game collection. I often sit an reminisce about my younger days, without thinking about the fact that I have everything I had in my younger days, and I have it at my fingertips anytime I want it. As a young lad I loved watching The Dukes Of Hazzard but I could only watch it on Friday night’s, when it was on the air. Now I can put in a DVD or turn on Amazon Prime video and watch it anytime I want to. And that goes for anything else I want to watch. What a time to be alive.

IV. My Mind. No one has ever accused me of not being intelligent, in spite of the large number of stupid decisions I have made in my life. One of those decisions was to allow my brain to stagnate for the past 10 or 12 years. Not only was I not learning, I was dumbing myself down by being around too many people who lacked not only a higher level of intelligence but, in some cases, even basic intelligence. That’s a bad place for an intellectual mind. Now I’m able to learn again and I’m taking full advantage of it. Physics. Engineering. Mathematics. History. Social Sciences. Chemistry. Paleontology.

V. My Life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything or anyone. If I could just rewrite my life from 2006 to 2017 (with the exception of every second spent with my son) and make a few more intelligent decisions in my teenage years and I would call my life “perfect.” While I can’t change the past, the future is mine for the taking and brother, I’m taking. I’m living for me, doing what I want, when I want and how I want. Thankfully.

Thank you for reading, God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

The Chicago White Sox 2018-19 Offseason, Part I

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With news of the Chicago White Sox decision to extend the contract of manager Ricky Renteria yesterday (November 6), I decided I would do a two, or three-part series of blogs on my thoughts about the 2019 offseason.

Naturally, I am disturbed by the first major decision and question it.

Someone, somewhere, once thought Rick Renteria was a good manager. I’m not sure how they came about that opinion, because his record as a manger (264-384, a .407 winning percentage) would get him fired from any other job in the league, let alone his inability to handle a bullpen (who else wears their bullpen out in the first game of a series?) and write out a sensible lineup every day?

The White Sox front office is still living under the delusion that they pulled something over on the Chicago Cubs when they hired Ricky after he had been fired by the Cubs to make room for Joe Maddon, who is clearly superior to Ricky in every phase of managing a baseball club. That’s not even debatable.

So, the Sox extend their clueless manager. That’s the first step to guaranteeing that the better free agents are not going to want to sign with you. That’s not the kind of move a winning organization makes. And regardless of who wants to fight about it, nothing this team has done yet in this rebuild has actually paid off.

Yoan Moncada was supposed to be a superstar. Some of the preseason baseball literature actually had him winning Rookie Of The Year in 2017 and being an All Star in 2018. Instead, he’s carrying around a .234 career batting average and striking out once every three at-bats, while looking disinterested in the field.

Then there’s Michael Kopech, who looked outstanding overall in four starts despite a 5.02 ERA. In 14 innings, he struck out 15 and walked two. But all that is meaningless because Tommy John surgery has put him on the shelf until 2020.

None of the other prospects, whether it be Dylan Cease or Eloy Jimenez or Micker Adolfo or our 2018 #1 Draft Pick Nick Madrigal has done anything at the MLB level. And with Moncada looking like an overrated bust, who is to say any of the other youngsters won’t turn out the same way in the long run?

No rebuild is guaranteed. Ask the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So, now the White Sox are blowing smoke about being in the running for major free agents. Sometimes I fall in and think anything is possible. Then I remember how this team operates. The largest contract ever given out was a six-year, $68 million deal to Jose Abreu, who has been worth every penny, no doubt.

In my mind, I see free agent targets Manny Machado and Bryce Harper signing ten or 12-year deals for over $350 million elsewhere as Rick Hahn announces that the White Sox made a “very competitive bid” but won’t elaborate.

Behind closed doors, those offers were in the six-year, $75 million range.

Then, to prove that the team isn’t tanking in free agent negotiations, Hahn offers someone like pitcher Dallas Keuchel a monster deal (three years, $60 million) and badly overpays just to show that the Sox will spend money.

While Hahn acts like a schoolboy trying to impress the girls, most of the baseball press has already figured this team out, and I have read on a number of sights that the best bet for a White Sox free agent signee is pitcher Anibal Sanchez.

Sanchez had a career revival last year with the Atlanta Braves, compiling a 2.83 ERA in 136.2 innings with 135 strikeouts and 42 walks, he certainly isn’t the franchise-defining free agent signing that Hahn is trying to fool us into believing is just around the corner. Sanchez will be 35 in 2019, and no part of a contending team, assuming the Sox are able to actually put together a contending team.

If I were running the White Sox, my first move would be to trade for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, whom I sincerely believe is the Carlton Fisk of this generation. His 2018 season (.274, 21 home runs, 74 RBI, All Star) dwarfs anything any White Sox catcher has done since A.J. Pierzynski. And there is no question that catcher is the most important position on the field. At least, there shouldn’t be.  I would give the Marlins whatever they want, short of Jimenez, in terms of a three or four-player deal and then sign Realmuto to a long-term contract.  Not a second thought.

But, the Sox are happy to get by with Omar Narvaez, who is a solid hitter but lacks any kind of real defensive prowess behind the plate, along with journeyman cheater Welington Castillo, while waiting for top catching “prospect” Zack Collins (who has a .232 career minor league batting average while only working his way up to the AA level) to develop into a guy that can actually hit in spite of his subpar defense.

I would sign Jose Abreu to a contract extension. He’s the only guy on this team over the past several years who has produced any kind of quality numbers. Yes, 2018 was an injury-plagued season, but his injuries certainly were not typical “wear and tear” injuries that guys suffer, and he still hit .265 with 22 home runs and 78 RBI.

As for free agency, there are clearly some holes on this team, starting with third base. I like Yolmer Sanchez as much as the next guy, but .242 with eight home runs and 55 RBI isn’t going to cut it at the hot corner. That’s always been one of the traditional power spots, unless you had a once-in-a-generation hitter like Wade Boggs. Yolmer is no Wade Boggs. He’s a good little utility player. Nothing more.

As free agency goes, Mike Moustakas is clearly the best third baseman available, coming off a season of 28 home runs and 95 RBI split between Kansas City and Milwaukee. Here is a guy with four 20+ home run seasons in the past six years and is not even a blip on the White Sox radar. Why? Because Jake Burger is the answer?

The outfield is also a sore spot, but I don’t see a lot being done there, with the expected promotion of uber-prospect Jimenez likely in April and the eventual promotion of Luis Robert to play CF. More than likely, a utility OF who can handle all three spots will be about as far as the White Sox go. They may want you to think that Bryce Harper is on the radar, but take my word for it, he isn’t going to sign for six years and $75 million when someone else will offer him four times that.

The pitching staff is where I expect most of the “action” to take place, much like last year and the year before. Several down-on-their-luck relief pitchers will sign and the Sox will try to flip them at the deadline for some borderline talent.

I sincerely doubt that one move the team makes this offseason will have any impact whatsoever on the roster once the team is competitive. I suspect Hahn will sign stopgap players again just to get through to 2020 when Kopech returns, and hope that Cease develops into a reliable starter and then the team can consider trying to fill holes with players who are a little more Bryce Harper than Melky Cabrera.

Which brings me to next offseason. If this offseason plays out as I think it will (i.e. exactly like last offseason) then there will be a drumbeat to sign third baseman Nolan Arenado. That’s assuming he even reaches free agency, as the Rockies are already rumored to be trying to sign him before he reaches the market.

As of tonight (November 7) the big name flying as a potential White Sox free agent target is pitcher J.A. Happ. Happ is coming off a 17-win season split between the Yankees and Blue Jays, and I’m not quite sure why anyone sees him signing with the White Sox. He should be able to turn that solid season into a nice payday with a contending team. But I’ll leave that for the “experts” to explain.

The more I look at the list of free agents, the more I realize the White Sox are in a state of purgatory. Even pretending to pay top dollar for a player on the wrong side of 30 makes no sense because this team isn’t going to be contending for at least a couple of more years. I think a run at a Wild Card spot in 2021 is their best bet.

But attempting to sign a young player like Harper or Machado makes little sense, as players of that caliber have been adding opt-outs to their contracts which lets them get out of a long-term deal after three years if they so desire. The upshot of that is if the Sox sign them before 2019, they can hit the market again after 2021.

Having said all of this, I’m willing to set back and let Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf prove me wrong. I sincerely hope they do. But coming out to the press and announcing a “competitive offer” isn’t going to fool anyone. If you want to impress me, make Machado a 10-year, $350 million deal and make it public knowledge. Then, if he declines, the fan base can say “they tried.”

But make those kinds of offers to the players who really deserve it, don’t overpay an over-the-hill pitcher twice what’s he is worth just to show that you are willing to spend money. And that is what I am most afraid is going to happen.

I’ll write another entry on this subject after the MLB Winter Meetings are held in Las Vegas, December 9 through December 13. I don’t expect any major happenings between now and then, but, who knows. In the meantime, this is how I see it playing out and if something unforeseen happens, I’ll address it.

Thank you for reading and GO SOX!

This Has Been A Great Year

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Over the past few weeks I have read a lot of posts online from people complaining about what an awful year 2018 has been. That lead me to write this, because I can honestly say this has been the best year I have had since 2010 and one of the top three years I have had in the past 15 years.

I’m not saying 2018 has been perfect, by any stretch. January was somewhat disastrous for me but it was also a cleansing moment. I lost my son for the time being but I also eliminated a lot of negatives from my life. I started being able to sleep again, and I was excited for baseball even though I knew the Chicago White Sox were looking at a long season of losing. By the time Spring Training rolled around I was starting to really feel like my life was on the upswing. And after the previous seven years, I was definitely ready for it.

For the first time in my life, I managed to watch every Chicago White Sox game this year. All 162 regular season games and every Spring Training game that was telecast. My only regret is not playing more MLB The Show on the PS4, but hopefully 2019 will be the year I can remedy that.

I was able to reunite with a large number of friends I had not been allowed to talk to in a number of years and met a ton of new friends. I am thankful for all of them. They helped make this year extra special for me.

There were setbacks, including my severely sprained ankle, the fact that I didn’t get into better shape but I am still down 20 pounds from where I was in January. I met a few people I would have been better off not knowing but I can’t complain about those little life lessons we all need to be taught. And it had been a long time since I had an extended run as a single man. The world has changed a lot in the past seven or eight years.

I am ready to take the next step in my life. I am going to begin taking online classes in physics, engineering and mathematics, which I wish I had done 20 years ago but I spent too many years not using the intellectual gifts God had bestowed upon me. Instead of learning and doing the best for myself, I flat-lined and spent my time with people who were not only not on my level intellectually but I lowered myself to that level as well.

I had planned to do my Alfred Hitchcock reviewing project this year but I’m going to put that off to next winter, I want to focus on my online classes and finally watching the complete original Star Trek series this winter. I started on it last year and watched the entire first season and massively enjoyed it, and I still have two seasons to go, as well as the original motion pictures and the animated series as well. I can’t wait.

Most importantly, it’s time to take this broken-down, past-it’s-prime body and turn it into the body I had when I was 22 years old. And there is no reason I can’t, the only thing standing in my way right now is me.

One of my few regrets in 2018 was not getting back into my cigar hobby early enough, I pissed away months that I could have spent enjoying cigars before I bought a new humidor and restocked it. But, now they have months to season and should be ready to smoke next spring. I can’t wait.

As good as 2018 was, and it was great, I think 2019 could be the best I’ve ever had. While my Amazon store is doing the best business it’s ever done in the eight years I have had it, I want to expand it and make it even better. I would also like to get a new job in addition to my Amazon store. I would love to have as much to do as possible to keep me busy in 2019.

I also want to start attending Minor League baseball games again in 2019. That has been one of the highlights of my past summers and it’s time to do it again. I needed the year away to kind of cleanse the memories of the past but now that the slate is clean, I will enjoy getting back into it again.

Life is what you make it. I did a damn good job making 2018 one of the best years I have had in a decade and a half. Here’s to a better 2019.

Random Thoughts…

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Random Thoughts

  • I am in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I spend every day in a mild state of depression as I look at myself and wonder what I did with the past 41 years. With the exception of baseball, I have basically failed to pursue any of my intellectual passions. My love for history (both world and American) are well known, as are my love of science (especially physics and paleontology) and politics and mathematics. Now, suddenly, my mind has become a sponge and my thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. I study all I can, all the time. I even listen to YouTube programs about physics before I go to sleep. Why didn’t I have this desire 25 years ago?

  • I am finally learning that it doesn’t pay to carry a grudge, no matter what has been done to you. Not only because I saw what happens to other people who have been wronged as they make complete asses of themselves on social media and that is the only recourse they are getting, but because I know now that carrying a grudge is a one-sided situation, because the person you carry a grudge against may not care at all. Especially when the person in question is a psychopath.

  • In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to start watching every existing Alfred Hitchcock-directed film (I have all of them in my DVD collection) and I have yet to start on that due to my horrible time-management abilities and lack of focus. So I am trying very hard to get that started this week.

  • I also need to take better care of myself physically. Between 2010 and 2017 I fell apart both mentally and physically and now that I am completely on the other side of that mentally, and have wiped my ass of it permanently, it’s time to fully put my body back together. I know I’ll never be as fit as I was at 22, but that’s my goal. I can’t believe I even made it to 41 years of age, to be honest. From the time I was 15 I always said I would never make it to 40. I never knew at 40 ½ I would be reborn and have to basically start over, but here I am, ready to go.

  • Finally, I am thinking about getting a new job. I have been self-employed for the past 11 months and while I enjoy it and I am financially secure, I am also bored out of my mind and couldn’t imagine spending another 20 or 30 or 50 years like this. Or, maybe I’ll just take this opportunity to start taking some classes in some of my preferred subjects that were neglected for so many years.

Top 5: My Favorite Everything… Revised

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This entry is a revised version of a previous entry, from January 2018. This was just for fun, to see how many things had changed in the ten months since the original entry. New additions to the list will be marked with a (*). Enjoy.

FAVORITE MOVIES
Back To The Future
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Return Of The Jedi *
First Blood
The Lady Vanishes *

FAVORITE BOOKS
The Art Of The Deal
The Catcher In The Rye
The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin *
Moneyball
Think Big And Kick Ass *

FAVORITE COLORS
Black
Blue
Silver
White
Gray

FAVORITE ACTORS
John Wayne
Brad Pitt
Harrison Ford
Joseph Cotten
Gene Wilder

FAVORITE ACTRESSES
Sharon Stone
Uma Thurman
Julie Newmar
Kim Novak
Grace Kelly

FAVORITE SUPERHEROES
Batman
Superman
Captain America
Spider-Man
Wonder Woman

FAVORITE VILLAINS
The Joker
The Red Skull
Lex Luthor
The Penguin
Mandarin

FAVORITE FRUIT
Pineapple
Apple
Banana
Grape
Watermelon

FAVORITE VEGETABLE
Corn
Potatoes
Green Peppers
Tomatoes
Hot Peppers

FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVORS
Rocky Road
Chocolate
Neapolitan
French Vanilla
Coffee

FAVORITE MOVIE CHARACTERS
John Rambo (First Blood)
Sam McCord (North To Alaska)
Marty McFly (Back To The Future)
Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct…  Hey, that’s what got me through puberty)
Han Solo (Star Wars series) *

FAVORITE TV CHARACTERS
Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)
Perry Mason
The Lone Ranger *
Paladin (Have Gun – Will Travel)
SpongeBob SquarePants *

FAVORITE TV SHOWS
Mystery Science Theater 3000 *
Alfred Hitchcock Presents *
Three’s Company
The Lone Ranger
Perry Mason

FAVORITE CANDY
M&Ms
Whatchamacallit
Snickers
Rolo
Hershey With Almonds

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Longhorn Steakhouse
Denny’s
Chili’s
McDonald’s
Burger King *

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS
AC/DC
Megadeth
Hank Williams, Sr.
The Beatles
Judas Priest *

FAVORITE WEBSITES
Facebook
iFunny
YouTube
Wikipedia
Amazon *

FAVORITE SONGS
“Sin City” by AC/DC *
“I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles *
“Angry Again” by Megadeth
“How About That” by Bad Company *
“Hysteria” by Def Leppard *

FAVORITE VIDEO GAMES
MLB The Show
Batman Arkham series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES trilogy *
Super Mario Kart *
Grand Theft Auto III *

FAVORITE BOARD GAMES
Monopoly
Life
Chess
Scrabble
Yahtzee (which doesn’t technically have a “board” but it makes the list anyway)

FAVORITE SPORTS
Major League Baseball
Minor League Baseball
NCAA Baseball

FAVORITE BASEBALL PLAYERS (ALL-TIME)
Frank Thomas
Bo Jackson
Jose Abreu
Pete Rose *
Mickey Mantle *

FAVORITE YEARS OF YOUR LIFE
2010
1995
1987
2018 *
1998

FAVORITE SUBJECTS FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND/OR COLLEGE
History (high school)
Journalism (high school)
Criminal Law (college)
Business Law (college)
American Civics (high school)

FAVORITE CITIES
Chicago
Los Angeles
Phoenix
Las Vegas
Pittsburgh

FAVORITE BEVERAGES
Coca-Cola
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
Folgers Black Silk coffee
Ocean Spray Cran-Grape Juice

FAVORITE CEREAL
Apple Jacks
Cap’n Crunch
Frosted Flakes *
Cocoa Pebbles
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats *

FAVORITE CARTOONS
Looney Tunes
South Park
Beavis and Butt-Head
SpongeBob SquarePants *
Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Peace.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

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Those that have known me for any appreciable length of time know that I have been a fan of the works of Alfred Hitchcock for nearly 30 years. I was first introduced to him via Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes in the fall of 1991, when my mom invited me to watch an episode and I was instantly hooked. In the years since, I have acquired nearly never episode of that program plus all of his surviving feature films.

I actually began taping Alfred Hitchcock Presents the year I discovered it, on VHS tapes, as they aired on Nick At Nite. In 1998, I re-recorded every episode that was shown on TV Land. Finally, when the program was released on DVD, I was quick to purchase every season that’s been released. I am still waiting for the release of the final season. I’m not sure why every other season was rushed to release except that one.

As for his feature films, AMC ran a marathon in 1999, the 100th anniversary of Hitchcock’s birth, and I filled as many VHS tapes as I could with those films. The ones that weren’t shown, I would try to find at my local movie and music stores.

Then, in 2010, I purchased three studio-release boxed sets, as well as a $5 Walmart boxed set that featured mostly silent films from the 1920s. The few films that were not included in any of these sets, I purchased on individual DVDs.

I have 54 feature films and 229 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in my collection. I plan to watch ALL of them over the next five months or so. While I have, more than likely, watched every episode of the TV program over the years, there are still 10 or 12 feature films I have not seen, even though they have been in my collection for a number of years. This has been a dream of mine for some time. Now it will happen.

In addition to watching, I also am planning to rate each film and TV episode through my IMDb account. I have done this previously with the 1950s TV series State Trooper and with the first two seasons of the original Star Trek series. I think it will be fun to look back on that as the years go by and especially when I watch a film over again.

This little project has literally been something I have been desirous of doing since at least 2005. I knew it would be a winter project, since my summer nights are taken by Chicago White Sox baseball games. I also knew it needed to be done at a time when I would have absolutely no outside distractions on a nightly basis.

My current thought process says I would like to watch three films per week, which will take 18 weeks if all goes as planned. I would also like to watch roughly 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents per week, which would take roughly five months, and I would finish up right in time for MLB Spring Training in 2019. I do worry about burnout, though a few years ago I watched every episode of The Lone Ranger during the winter months, 221 complete, and never suffered burnout. And could have watched more.

I have printed out the title of all 54 feature films and will be cutting them out and putting them in an old cigar box and will draw a film out and watch, that way I’m leaving which films I’ll be watching completely to chance. I don’t want to just jump in watching my favorites (i.e. The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca and Psycho) all at once.

Oddly enough, the oldest surviving Hitchcock film, titled The Pleasure Garden, is one of the few I have not seen before. It was not included in any of the boxed sets. Released in 1925, I was able to secure a DVD copy from Amazon at a reasonable price. Apparently, it is now out of print because it is no longer available on Amazon or eBay.

I am looking forward to this project. It is many years in the making.

Below is my collection.

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